Across Britain, the tide is turning against Brexit, and the shift in opinion is showing strongest in the North of England.
Best for Britain has released the results of the most extensive and sophisticated opinion poll yet on the public’s latest views on Brexit. Over 15,000 people were polled by YouGov and this has been converted into an estimate of how each Westminster constituency would vote leave/remain if there was an EU referendum tomorrow. In this post, Northern Umbrella analyses Best for Britain’s numbers for the North.
The national headline is that there are now 341 Westminster constituencies in Great Britain that would vote for Remain, compared to 291 that would vote for Leave. MPs for seats which have switched from being leave-supporting in 2016 to remain-supporting in August 2018 include Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The implication is clear: every concerned citizen should be pushing MPs for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal brought back by Theresa May, with the option to remain in the EU being on the ballot paper.
Labour’s heartlands are changing their mind – and Liverpool leads the way
The analysis of ‘swing seats’ – places that voted for leave in 2016 but would vote for remain now – shows that the strongest changes of opinion are in Labour’s traditional heartlands including the West Midlands, South Wales, and the North of England.
The biggest swings in Britain are in the Liverpool area: Liverpool Walton (MP Dan Carden, Labour) has moved from being 46.2% for Remain in 2016 to 60.5% today – a 14.3% swing. Knowsley (MP George Howarth, Labour), has swung from 48% for Remain, the same percentage as the referendum result nationwide, to being 61% in favour of Remain.
This is interesting, because on 22-25 September the Labour Party conference will be in Liverpool. This is our big chance to bring home to Labour party members and MPs that the Labour-supporting areas across the country that voted for Brexit are now waking up to the reality that Tory Brexit was never intended to benefit them, never will benefit them, and so they have changed their minds – they do not support Brexit any more.
The North is shifting against Brexit – but there’s more work to do
The first map, taken from the Polimapper website, shows the estimated result of the 2016 referendum in the North’s Westminster constituencies. In this map, seats that had a majority for remain are shown in blue, and seats with a majority for leave are shown in red.
The second map shows the findings from Best for Britain’s new August 2018 poll. In this map, seats polling for remain are shown in yellow, those still polling for leave in green. This map shows that 35 seats have swung to remain, leaving the new total across the North 70 seats for Remain (45% of the North’s seats) and 86 seats for Leave (55% of seats). Less than 45% of the area is yellow because the less densely populated rural seats tend to support Leave.
Analysis of the changes
The maps of the North show an interesting geography, as discussed below. What the maps don’t show, but the tables at the bottom of this post do, is that no fewer than 32 of the 35 seats which have swung from Leave in 2016 to Remain in 2018 are Labour-held seats, and just 3 Conservative.
Looking at the map of Remain-supporting areas across the North, the wider Liverpool City Region area stands out as the spiritual home of Remain in the North: all its seats are now estimated to have a majority for Remain, with big swings in formerly pro-leave towns like St Helens and Runcorn/Widnes (Halton). Nearby Ellesmere Port and West Lancashire have also swung to Remain.
In the rest of Lancashire, the key cities of Preston, Blackburn and Lancaster/Fleetwood have swung from leave to remain. In the rest of Cheshire, Warrington South and Weaver Vale have joined Chester, Tatton and Macclesfield in favour of Remain. The Labour seat of High Peak in Derbyshire (which counts as the North for the Northern Umbrella) has swung to Remain. In Cumbria, opinion is shifting, but no changes yet – the North’s last Lib Dem seat of Westmorland & Lonsdale is still the only place for Remain.
In the North East, there has been a big swing of 11% from Leave to Remain in Gateshead, with Blaydon and Jarrow now too close to call. They join Tynemouth, Tory Hexham, two of the three Newcastle seats and the City of Durham as pro-Remain seats. Meanwhile the rest of the region, including all of Tees Valley, is still polling as being in favour of Leave – which is a shame, as a hard Brexit that affects the supply chains of the region’s manufacturing industries (including Nissan in Sunderland, but not just Nissan) will hit the North East harder than anywhere else in the whole of UK. There is much work to do in the North East and Tees Valley.
In Yorkshire, a huge 12% swing to Remain sees Hull North (MP, Diana Johnson, Labour) proudly join York and Harrogate as the only pro-Remain seats in the whole of North and East Yorkshire. But the swing to Remain sweeps up eight further seats in Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale and Huddersfield. West Yorkshire’s seats now break 13-9 for Remain, whilst South Yorkshire’s now break 4-10 remain/leave. Leave’s continuing strongholds include Wakefield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. However, Barnsley Central has the biggest shift towards remain of anywhere in the North: a giant 17% swing from only 32% for Remain at the 2016 referendum to 49% for it now – nearly there!
In Greater Manchester, nine seats have swung to leave, including seats in Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside and Stockport, to join those in Manchester and Trafford. Greater Manchester’s seats now break 17-10 for Remain. The only Leave strongholds left are Bolton and Wigan. This is something that the new Best for Bolton group is aiming to fix urgently, as there is literally zero chance that either Theresa May’s or Boris Johnson’s favoured form of Brexit will be good for places like Bolton and Wigan.
Best for Bolton: taking the campaign to the people
Best for Bolton is a great example of a local campaign to get the word out that a people’s vote to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU is not only a viable option for Britain, but is the best and simplest way to save us from a Liam Fox/Donald Trump Brexit nightmare future. The data tables below show that views are already changing – the campaign aims to build on that and spread it further. Many towns and cities in the North already have a campaign group like this: we now need something similar everywhere.
Best for Bolton was set up following the meeting “Uniting the North against Brexit” on 24 July (report here), and will be running a stall at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival on Sat 25 August, 9am-3pm. The stall will have a ‘Brexitometer’, and loads of information about the campaign to stop Brexit – come to one of the North’s biggest food festivals and meet them!
Bolton North East MP Sir David Crausby (Labour) is already signed up for a people’s vote; only two more MPs to go. Meanwhile the data tables below show that only 0.4% more of a swing is needed to get a majority of voters in Bolton West into the Remain camp.
The North’s data seat by seat
The tables at the bottom of this post show all 156 Westminster constituencies and their MPs in the Northern Umbrella’s definition of the North of England (the same as the official definition, except for including High Peak in Derbyshire, but excluding Northern Lincolnshire). For each seat, the tables show the estimated vote at the 2016 referendum, the estimated vote in favour of Remain now (as at August 2018), and the swing towards Remain. The constituencies in each part of the North are listed in order of today’s estimated level of support for Remain.
Write to your MP!
The names of the MPs whose seats have swung to Remain are highlighted in bold. Northerners concerned about the future of our region are strongly encouraged to write to these MPs. All Brexit options hit the North harder than anywhere else in UK, and all Brexit options leave us immeasurably worse off than the option to stay in the EU on our existing terms, the option that expires in 29 March 2019.
Brexit leaves us as a desperate basket case drifting in the cold North Atlantic, ready to be sold by Liam Fox and friends for shafting by Donald Trump. Although many Northerners are waking up to this reality, not enough have. We haven’t much time to act. These MPs know this, and they should not be forgiven if they act against the best interests of their constituents, especially in places which have now changed their minds and favour Remain.
Last word – this is what united against Brexit looks like
Best for Britain’s estimate is that now every single Westminster seat in Scotland enjoys a big majority for Remain. The North should look to Scotland more than it currently does, and nowhere more than on the question of Brexit: whatever their views on Scottish independence, an overwhelming majority of Scots do not want Brexit. Would that the North of England had such a clear view of its own best interests.
The data tables
Pale yellow: Remain in 2016; Remain now. Pale green: Leave in 2016; Leave now Bright yellow bold: Leave in 2016; has now swung to Remain.
Liverpool City Region
Cheshire, Warrington & High Peak
Lancashire & Cumbria
North East & Tees Valley